Ah, summertime. Concert season, scalping season. Despite a dearth of fresh musical acts on the tour scene, online ticket marketplaces like StubHub.com, RazorGator.com and TicketsNow.com are commanding big markups for this year's shows. The always reliable (and deep-pocketed) baby boomer market is gobbling up reunion tour tickets for classic 1970s and '80s bands like The Police, Genesis and Rush.
Throw in other oldies but goodies Jimmy Buffet and Pink Floyd alum Roger Waters, along with country superstars like Keith Urban and husband-and-wife team Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, and Summer '07 is a paradise for scalpers. Resellers and online auction houses are already getting multiples over face value for seats.
On TicketsNow, $254 floor seats for the Police's June 20 show at the Los Angeles Staples Center are listing for $975 to $3,000 a pop. Reunited for the first time in almost 25 years, the Police have no shortage of fans despite lukewarm reviews and stunning prices.
"I don't think Police fans will be deterred," says TicketsNow spokeswoman Jennifer Swanson. How rabid are the fans? Some New Yorkers posting on Craigslist are looking to swap their beloved Mets-Yankees Subway Series tickets for Police seats.
Rush, meanwhile, is making waves this summer with a 50-show tour at venues big and small. Box seats for its June 15 gig at the Sound Advice Amphitheater in West Palm Beach, Fla., are going for $627 on TicketsNow, about nine times face value. By the time the tour reaches New York's Madison Square Garden in mid-September, some of those holding $129 loge seats will have forked over $700 in the online aftermarket.
In addition to time-tested oldies groups, promoters are also turning to concert versions of popular television shows to bring fresh material to the stage. An "American Idol Live" tour has sellers asking $500 and up in Nashville, San Antonio and Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., for floor seats that originally retailed for less than $100. Also, the June 26 Miami stop for the summer's "Dancing with the Stars" series is fetching as much as $575 for $165 face value tickets.
Even comedian Jerry Seinfeld is getting in on the act. The television veteran is doing four nights this summer at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas (two just-completed acts on June 8-9 followed by two more shows on August 3-4). Tickets originally priced at $75 to $150 are going for $170 to $515 online.
Summer also means baseball, of course. And aftermarket ticket prices to this year's July 10 All-Star Game in San Francisco, where locals will have the chance to support controversial local legend Barry Bonds on national television, are averaging more than $1,000 online, more than three times the average face value.
Meanwhile, the intense East Coast rivalry between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees is generating both record box office receipts for each team and big profits for online scalpers. Box seats at Boston's Fenway Park are scalping for over $300 at some games, while standing room is fetching $50.
A few Yankee game tickets have online asking prices in the thousands. Baseball tickets are in such demand in the East this year that five June Yankee games — three against the Red Sox and two against the crosstown Mets — stand as StubHub's five highest-grossing individual events of the summer so far. Taken together, those dates averaged almost $200 a ticket, amazing for a 52,000-seat sports venue that hosts 81 dates a year.
The good news for consumers is that not every seat in the concert or sports house in commanding a big premium. Larger venues like the L.A.'s Staples Center, New York's Madison Square Garden and Miami's American Airlines Arena, not to mention large stadiums like Giants Stadium in New Jersey and Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, bring tales of two price ranges for this summer's concerts. While top seats on the floor are going for multiples over face value, some of those upstairs are bringing little-to-no price increase. Ample supply means some seats are even going for amounts below their original prices, according to StubHub.
And like any marketplace, prices in the ticket world tend to change at a pretty quick pace leading up to the event. A seller posting a June 20 Police ticket on the floor of the Staples Center for $2,000 might well come down as show time draws closer.
"The market is constantly fluctuating," says StubHub spokesman Sean Pate.